Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has backed a bid for a major reorganisation of local government in the county, which would see the abolition of the county council.
A plan to create three or four new unitary authorities has been put forward by Oxford City Council, Cherwell, West Oxfordshire, South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse district councils, HSJ sister title Local Government Chronicle reports. The proposal would also see the new unitaries forming a combined authority.
The CCG has also backed a separate devolution bid submitted earlier this month by Oxfordshire County Council, which HSJ reported earlier this month would devolve powers to jointly commission all the area’s specialised services, primary care, social care and public health services.
The latest proposal led by second-tier authorities could see reorganisation sprawl into neighbouring Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire as one unitary option includes South Northamptonshire Council and Cotswold District Council, which have shared services with Cherwell and West Oxfordshire respectively.
Underlying the move is a bid for an “ambitious devolution deal for Oxfordshire”, a joint statement said.
Joe McManners, chair of the CCG, said: “We support the ambition of the councils to bring health and social care closer together as this will improve outcomes for patients. We will wish to work closely with them in developing these plans.”
Speaking on behalf of all of the districts, Vale of White Horse leader Matthew Barber said: “This devolution deal is a fantastic opportunity for Oxfordshire and we believe we should do everything possible to secure much needed investment for the benefit of residents, businesses and communities.
“Local unitary councils working together through a combined authority offer the best solution for the people of Oxfordshire. It will allow decision-making and service delivery to better reflect the different challenges and priorities of the people we serve.”
The districts will commission independent experts to work up detailed, costed plans. Proposals will be considered by each council prior to public consultation in the summer.